Best Stress-free Ways to Organize All Your Holiday Tasks
How to get everything done this season with time left to enjoy Christmas
Manage the endless Christmas to-do list with simple steps that preserve the spirit of the season and keep you from feeling frazzled.
Christmas cards. Tree trimming. House decorations. Christmas cookies. Holiday parties. Gift shopping. Wrapping presents. Shipping presents. Visiting family and friends. Preparing the big Christmas feast. All this and more—in addition to life. With all the festivities around the Christmas holiday season, it’s a wonder we can get it all done. Plus, it’s the shortest days of the year.
There has long been much criticism about the commercialization of Christmas and how the meaning of season gets lost in the craziness. With all the tasks and crowded stores, it’s easy to forget the enchantment of the season. Yet we all fondly remember the special joys of Christmas: the fireplace crackling, the scent of cinnamon, delicious holiday treats, cheerful music, snowflakes falling outdoors. The anticipation of beautifully wrapped gifts. The warmth of family and friends and the love of giving. The pressure to recreate these delights bears down on us every December.
We dream of a home filled with twinkling lights, pine garlands and poinsettias but don’t have the time until next year. How can we pull it off and still find time to appreciate the festivities, see the glee on our child’s face, catch up with relatives, and catch a kiss under the mistletoe? Prioritize and organize. Sound familiar? Easier said than done. One solution is to hire your own Santa’s helpers, professional “elves” who will help complete the checklist and check it twice.
One cure for the holiday blues is to hire out jobs, such as asking the nursery to deliver a tree (even with the lights attached) and hiring a temporary assistant to address Christmas cards. This opens up important time to trim the tree with your children and write personalized notes on each card.
This leads to the second rule of beating the holiday time crunch: delegate. Here are more ways to ask others for help:
Billions of cards are mailed every Christmas despite email. Farm out the duty of addressing them and reserve your energy for selecting the perfect card or writing an amusing letter for people on your list. The alternative may be to send e-cards to some, but it takes time to hunt for the right one.
Need a last minute present for a client, a colleague or boss, or a long-lost cousin who’s coming to town? Personal shoppers will do it within your budget and find the perfect gift, wrapped and with a card. If it’s an item that’s been requested and doesn’t require your selecting the right size or color, ask a professional shopper. Shops also help select items and ship them.
Another way to reduce shopping, rely on a Secret Santa so only one gift is exchanged with a person at the office. This can be applied to other groups, too. Some people choose a charity to donate to and skip the boxes and bows altogether.
Wrapping presents may be the easiest part of gift giving but the time adds up. Let somebody else tackle the task. Store departments and specialty services will creatively turn your box into a beautiful package from a huge selection of ribbons and paper while you run another errand or pick up food items for the grand holiday dinner. You can also throw a wrapping party and catch up with girlfriends while sharing trimmings. It will make the hours fly by.
If the in-laws are coming to visit consider an expert tour guide to show them the sights. They will come home to tell you details you didn’t know about your own city. They can also make arrangements for tickets to events and may have connections for great seats at a discount price. They can help with restaurant reservations at special places, too.
By hiring someone to take a load of jobs off your plate, it leaves you time to hunt down the perfect present for a loved one. If it sounds terrible to entrust others with your errands, consider it for just this year. You may discover what you miss doing the most. It may be that shopping for baking ingredients that can be delivered isn’t as important as having time to bake the cookies with your kids.
Share the Load
If you don’t want to pay the fees, ask others to share your load. Turn tasks into parties so you have more fun, from cookie baking to tree trimming. Your child can create an ornament every year for the tree and their grandparents’ tree, too. Soon the trees will be filled with sweet memories. Ask dinner guests to bring a special dish they love to make or a cake from a family recipe. That way, you can focus on the leg of lamb—and best of all—enjoy Christmas.